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Salt is a chemical compound made up of sodium and chloride, and is the main source of sodium in our diets. A small amount is important for maintaining blood pressure and blood volume, as well as being needed by muscles and nerves to work correctly.



Where can I get it from?

Salt comes from our diets, and daily requirements can easily be met from the natural salts found in fresh foods, without needing to add salt when cooking, or at the dinner table. Salt is often used by food manufacturers as a flavour enhancer and preservative, so can be found in foods such as bread, processed meats (bacon, salami, ham), canned soups and sauces, tinned vegetables, and salted nuts and chips.



How much do I need?

The amount of salt that is likely to be adequate depends on your age and gender. The Adequate Intake (AI) below reflects the amount estimated to be adequate for most people.


  AI (mg/day)                                                               
0-6 months 120
7-12 months 170
1-3 years 200-400
4-8 years 300-600
9-13 years 400-800
14-18 years 460-920
Men 460-920
Women 460-920



How do I know if I’m not getting enough?

Salt is lost from the body through urine, perspiration, diarrhoea and vomiting. If too much salt is lost, blood fluid levels will drop which can lead to muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Severe salt loss however is very rare as our diets contain more than enough salt, and generally only occurs with severe sweating, acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrheoa) or drinking far too much water.



Can I have too much?

Too much salt (sodium) from excess dietary salt can cause high blood pressure which can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and failure, kidney disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.



The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.


National Heart Foundation of Australia


Better Health Channel


Medline Plus Medical Encyclopaedia


National Health and Medical Research Council – Australia Dietary Guidelines



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